Part 3: Brock University to Short Hills
Date: Friday 27 April 2018
Start: Glenridge Avenue, Brock University
End: Black Walnut Side Trail, Short Hills Provincial Park
Distance covered: 12.5 km
Total distance covered: 37.8 km
26. The Trail follows the Escarpment as it runs along the north side of the Brock campus. Alphie’s Trough is the University’s faculty club. Suitably enough, its name refers to the place where Alphie, Major-General Sir Isaac Brock’s horse, liked to partake of liquid refreshment. Alphie was with Brock when his master was killed by a musket ball at the Battle of Queenston Heights on 13 October 1812. Meanwhile, to judge from those daffodils, spring, though late, is definitely here.
27. In a wooded area at the edge of campus, a white-tailed deer is eyeing us through the branches.
28. We round a southern branch of Lake Moodie, a reservoir created to help produce hydroelectric power for the city of Hamilton. The colours here are subtle but pleasing: a patch of red osiers on the left, a shrub greening up on the right, and a pale, dreamy blue sky.
29. Mike’s reading a plaque entitled “DeCou’s Stone House (1812-1950).” Here stood the house of Capt. John DeCou or DeCew (1766-1855), a United Empire Loyalist born in Vermont. It was to this house that Laura Secord made her legendary journey on 22 June 1813 to warn the British of the American advance. The smaller plaque underneath corrects the date on the upper plaque, which gives Secord’s journey as 24 June 1813. On the latter date was the Battle of Beaverdams, a British/Mohawk victory over the Americans, which took place about 5 km east of here. DeCew’s house was destroyed by fire in 1950.
30. This is the First Nations Peace Monument in DeCew House Heritage Park. Designed by famed architect Douglas Cardinal, it was unveiled in 2017. It represents two curved longhouses decorated with stylized wampum belts, forming a circle of peace around a central hearth. A single white pine tree at rear symbolizes peace to the Iroquois Nations. The monument, intended to be a place of reflection, is a belated recognition of the large part played by First Nations in the War of 1812 and thus in the formation of Canada.
31. This unassuming bird perched on a cattail near Lake Moodie ought to be familiar but probably isn’t. She’s a female red-winged blackbird, very different in appearance and character from her flamboyant, aggressive mate. While he spends much of his time loudly asserting his claim over territory, she quietly gets on with building the nest and incubating her eggs.
32. This is the Bridge at Laura’s Crossing. The plaque, installed in 2013 by the Friends of Laura Secord on the 200th anniversary of the event, indicates that Laura crossed rain-swollen 12 Mile Creek here on her way to DeCew House. The low-impact pedestrian suspension bridge is based on a New Zealand design. It beats crossing the creek on a log, as Laura is reputed to have done!
33. A mass of what look like grove or brown-lipped snails in a waterlogged ditch.
34. Nick is happy to have nearly completed this leg of the hike in the beautiful surroundings of Short Hills Provincial Park. He has forgotten that once we get to our end point at km 37.8, we still have to trek another 800 metres along the Black Walnut Side Trail to the parking lot on Pelham Rd.
35. Terrace Creek Falls in Short Hills Provincial Park is a 6-metre-high curtain waterfall, and a very attractive one at that.
36. Another sign of spring. This is hepatica, a.k.a. liverwort, here in a slightly pinkish variety. It’s one of the earliest wildflowers to appear. Hepatica gets its name from its three-lobed leaves’ resemblance to the human liver (Greek hepar), and the flower was once thought to be an effective treatment for liver disease (e.g., hepatitis), though there is no scientific basis for this belief. Hepatica is actually slightly toxic to humans.
37. Next to the Short Hills Provincial Park parking lot, a vineyard. The vines show not the slightest hint of growth as yet.
38. This fine stone house stands opposite the parking lot on Pelham Road. Built in 1802 upon the site of an earlier foundation, it’s probably the oldest house in the St. Catherines area. Constructed from local limestone, it’s in Georgian style, typical of Loyalist preferences. It was built by the Brown family, originally from upstate New York, who had moved to Niagara in 1781. John Brown served in Butler’s Rangers, a Loyalist regiment. The house currently houses the John Brown Heritage Foundation.